PhD in Psychology - Program Objectives - Keiser University
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Psychology, PhD (Psych, Psy)

Program Objectives

The Doctoral Program in Psychology has been developed to challenge you with rigorous coursework and meaningful teaching and research activities.  It follows a scholar-practitioner model that encourages you to integrate scholarly research with your classroom expertise.

At the conclusion of the program, graduates will:

  • Develop an advanced understanding of general psychological principles and theories to include motivation, learning, emotion, and behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity in individuals and the global community, demonstrated through using socio-cultural appropriate methodology in evaluating individual, social, and organizational levels in the field of psychology.
  • Evaluate educational and social services program designs to include program evaluation, curriculum development, and assessment strategies.
  • Apply principles of effective research methods, evaluating problems, developing research strategies, designing and conducting psychological research, interpreting and evaluating research data, and formulating grounded conclusions to add to the body of knowledge.
  • Demonstrate professional communication skills in writing through organizing, thinking critically, and communicating ideas and information in documents, presentations, and publications.

We anticipate that graduates of our program will have the potential to assume leadership positions in the psychology field and to make valuable contributions to government, nonprofit, and private organizations. Settings in which you may practice can include mental health centers, government agencies, healthcare organizations, corporations, community agencies, social services, and schools. Your career opportunities, depending on your specialization, may include a role as a:

  • Teacher / Professor
  • Researcher
  • Consultant
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Administrator
  • Political Strategist
  • Marketing Director

* Clinical and Counseling psychology positions may require state licensure. This program is not designed to meet the requirements for state licensure as it is not a clinical or counseling psychology program.


Prerequisites for Major Courses:

  • Path One: Students may enter the Ph.D. in Psychology with a Master’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Path Two: Students may enter the Ph.D. in Psychology with a Baccalaureate degree in psychology or related behavioral science from an accredited institution. Students with a baccalaureate degree complete an additional 18 graduate semester hours of course work, to include a thesis.

Note: Courses in the PhD program are eight-weeks in length and students are scheduled for one or two courses concurrently.  Dissertation courses are eight-weeks in length and students are scheduled for two dissertation courses per semester.

Program Outline

To receive a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology degree, students with a Master’s degree must earn 60 graduate semester credit hours. Students with a Bachelor’s degree must complete an additional 18 graduate semester credit hours and complete a thesis to receive their Master’s degree while enrolled in the Ph.D. in Psychology.  Fifty-four of the program hours (for students entering with a Master’s degree) must be completed through Keiser University.  Seventy-two of the program hours (for students entering with a Baccalaureate degree) must be completed through Keiser University.  Program requirements are as follows:

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Major Core Courses ( 60.0 credit hours; 18 additional hours if coming in without a Master’s degree )

Prerequisite Courses ( 18.0 credit hours, for students without a Master’s degree )
History and Systems of Psychology 3.0 credit hours
Health Psychology 3.0 credit hours
Psychopathology 3.0 credit hours
Evolutionary Psychology 3.0 credit hours
Master’s Thesis, Part I
( Prerequisite: PSY701, RSM701)
3.0 credit hours
Master’s Thesis, Part II
( Prerequisite: PSY502, PSY532, PSY542, PSY562, PSY730, PSY760, PSY770, PSY690 )
3.0 credit hours
PSY699 is taken after 33 graduate semester hours have been completed, and must be taken alone.
Foundation Courses ( 27.0 credit hours )
Research, Ethics, and Scholarly Writing
( Program prerequisite course )
3.0 credit hours
Cognitive & Affective Basis of Behavior 3.0 credit hours
Behavioral Neuroscience 3.0 credit hours
Human Development 3.0 credit hours
Theories of Learning and Motivation 3.0 credit hours
Sociocultural Basis of Behavior 3.0 credit hours
Cross-Cultural Methods of Tests and Measurements 3.0 credit hours
Educational Psychology 3.0 credit hours
Curriculum Design 3.0 credit hours
Research Courses ( 18.0 credit hours )
Quantitative Research I 3.0 credit hours
Research Design and Qualitative Mathods 3.0 credit hours
Quantitative Research II ( Prerequisite: Quantitative Research I ) 3.0 credit hours
Advanced Research Theory, Design, and Methods 3.0 credit hours
Psychometrics 3.0 credit hours
Advanced Research: Pre-Proposal and Literature Review
( Prerequisite Quantitative Research and II, Qualitative Research and Reasearch, Theory, Design, and Methods ) Advanced Research: Pre-Proposal and Literature Review is scheduled as the last course and is not scheduled with any other courses.
3.0 credit hours
Elective Courses (In addition to above courses, students must also complete one elective course)
Advanced Seminar in Teaching Psychology
( Prerequisites: Theories of Learning and Motivation, Cross-Cultural Methods of Tests and Measurement, Educational Psychology, Curriculum Design and Leadership :Assessment and Program Evaluation )
3.0 credit hours
Advanced Seminar in Program Evaluation ( project focused )
( Prerequisites: Qualitative Research, Research Theory, Design, and Methods, Advanced Experimental Design in Psychology, Policy Analysis, and Psychometrics )
3.0 credit hours
Dissertation Courses ( 12.0 credit hours )
Students must be admitted to candidacy before enrolling in Dissertation Courses. Students must complete eight DSS900 courses.
( Dissertation is not scheduled with any other course )
2.0 credit hours


The Doctoral Program includes a stimulating and instructional residency requirement. Residency is a time for students to gather to strengthen and continue building community.

Quality distance learning programs present both benefits and challenges for students. A key challenge faced by students and faculty within the doctoral program is to find alternative ways to create the personal interaction and connectivity that develops more naturally in the traditional face-to-face classroom course. Residency offers an incredible opportunity for cohort members to meet and build relationships with one another, faculty and staff that may last an eternity. In addition, residencies provide enriching in-person networking and mentoring opportunities for students with faculty and peers. It is during residency that the faculty and students truly become colleagues; engaging in both personal and professional dialogue, establishing friendships as well becoming professional equals.

What should students expect residency to look like? The overall experience is slightly different for each cohort. The specific focus for each cohort varies:

First Residency – Residency is a time of orientation. This is when the cohort comes together for the first time as enrolled students. During this first residency, students are oriented to how the online program functions, and are given time with the faculty and other students to develop mentoring and professional relationships. Students gather together daily for workshops and presentations on important concepts for their doctoral studies.  Students are also expected to begin seriously considering their dissertation topic and committee. They will have opportunities to engage in face-to-face discussions with faculty.

Second Residency –This is the final residency required of doctoral students. Focus during this year includes continuing discussion of the student’s research interests and mentoring the student.  Students will have greater access to the faculty, including individual appointments and to fully discuss these topics.

Students should budget for the following residency costs: 1) transportation, 2) hotel accommodations and 4) some food costs. The residency fee will cover the cost of most breakfasts, lunches and some dinners, as well as classroom break snacks when courses are in session. Students are responsible for making their own travel, lodging and other meal arrangements. The school assists with information on these, and helps facilitate students’ connecting to share rooms and rental cars to minimize expenses.

Students’ daily schedules during residency are occupied with many activities that they are required to attend. The coursework is intensive and requires a considerable amount of study and preparation time.

The program is committed to the historical foundations of the doctoral degree in which a community of scholars is created among faculty-mentors and student-scholars. Keiser University mirrors this historical tradition by the utilization of student cohorts, intensive on-campus residencies and a variety of interactive discussion modes that extend beyond topical course discourse. In view of this goal, the waiving of residency requirements will not be considered.


The dissertation is the culminating experience of the Doctor of Philosophy in any field of study. A dissertation serves two important functions. First, it is a demonstration of research, analytical and writing skill at the highest level of scholarly endeavor. The individual who plans, conducts, writes and defends a dissertation has shown that she or he is capable of pursuing a line of inquiry that requires the mastery of a large knowledge base, proficiency in analytical tools including statistics and narrative analysis, and the ability to articulate the meaning and application of that knowledge to both mentors and peers.

Secondly, the dissertation advances knowledge. Scholarship is advanced by the creative pursuit of answers to complicated questions. Dissertations are not just “really big class projects,” but serve to advance the method of addressing significant social concerns and problems. In that regard, dissertations are public documents designed to advance the culture.

The dissertation process begins early in the Ph.D. experience. Students are encouraged to pursue lines of inquiry, develop research agendas with faculty and participate in research groups. Papers and projects required in the core courses can facilitate the formation of dissertation projects, along with consultation and discussion of emerging ideas with the faculty.

During the second residency, students focus on the requirements and details of the dissertation process. During this time, students will seek three scholars to form the dissertation committee and guide them through their project. Students will draft a comprehensive literature review, research questions and method of inquiry to answer the questions in their second year. Following completion of comprehensive exams, students will defend their dissertation. Students must submit an application to the Instructional Review Board and receive approval to complete their research prior to beginning their study.

Doctoral candidates work closely with their dissertation chair and committee to complete their research, analyze its meaning and significance, and present it in cogent and succinct written form.

The dissertation defense is the final and culminating experience of Ph.D. studies. It will consist of a public meeting in which the doctoral candidate formally presents the dissertation project, explains findings of the study and articulates its relevance to significant social problems. Dissertations are a reflection of the student’s comprehension of and capacity to address complex issues.


Cheri Hansen, Ph.D.

Cheri Hansen, Ph.D.Dr. Hansen completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Nova Southeastern University.  Her clinical experience has involved children, adolescents, and adults in community mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and psychiatric hospitals. Her research experience has included coordinating NIDA- and NIMH-funded clinical trials that examined treatments for substance abuse and mental health disorders, examining sequelae of sexual abuse and psychological abuse, and providing program evaluation services for nonprofit organizations. Her education experience includes teaching psychology courses in traditional and online classrooms as well as community agencies, and she has conducted research and assessment training and provided statistical consultation for community agency staff and graduate students.

Selected publications:

  • Hien, D. A., Campbell, A. N. C., Killeen, T., Hu, M-C., Hansen, C., Jiang, H., Hatch-Maillette, M., Miele, G. M., Cohen, L. R., Gan, W., Resko, S. M., DiBono, M., Wells, E. A., & Nunes, E. V. (2010).  The impact of  trauma- focused group therapy upon HIV sexual risk behaviors in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network ‘‘Women and Trauma’’ multi-site study.  AIDS and Behavior, 14(2), 421-430.
  • Hien, D., Wells, E. A., Jiang, H., Suarez-Morales, L., Campbell, A., Cohen, L., Miele, G., Killeen, T., Brigham, G., Zhang, Y., Hansen, C., Hodgkins, C., Hatch-Maillette, M., Brown, C., Kulaga, A., Kristman-Valente, A., Chu, M., Sage, R., Robinson, J., Liu, D., & Nunes, E. V. (2009).  Multi-site randomized trial of behavioral interventions for women with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(4), 607-619.
  • Killeen, T., Hien, D., Campbell, A., Brown, C., Hansen, C., Jiang, H., et al. (2008).  Adverse events in an integrated trauma-focused intervention for women in community substance abuse treatment.  Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 35, 304–311.
  • Hansen, C., Weiss, D., & Last, C.G. (1999).  ADHD boys in young adulthood: Psychosocial adjustment.  Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 165-171.
  • Hansen, C., Sanders, S.L., Massaro, S., & Last, C.G. (1998).  Predictors of severity of absenteeism in children with anxiety-based school refusal.  Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 246-254.

Shoshana Dayanim, Ph.D.

Shoshana Dayanim, Ph.D.Dr. Shoshana Dayanim earned a MA degree in Creative Arts Therapy, and practiced as a psychotherapist for several years before returning to school to earn her PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University and completing a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University. Her research interests focus on the affects of television and technology on children. She has served as a researcher for various educational television programs including Sesame Street (her favorite). She enjoys helping students get excited about psychology and research and supporting them in reaching their goals!

Selected publications:

  • Dayanim, S. & Namy, L.L. (Under Review). Infants learn baby signs from video.
  • Dayanim, S., Levy, S. R. & Namy, L.L. (2011, March). Parents Report Infants Learn Best from Video With Parent Co-Viewing. Presented at the meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, Jacksonville, Florida. [Winner of the SEPA Outstanding Professional Paper Award]
  • Dayanim, S. (2009). The acute effects of a specialized movement program on the verbal abilities of patients with late-stage Dementia. Alzheimer’s Care Today, 10(2): 93-98.
  • Schmitt, K., Dayanim, S. & Matthias, S. (2008). Personal homepage construction as an expression of social development. Developmental Psychology, 44(2):496-506.
  • Dayanim, S. Goodill, S. & Lewis, C. (2006). The moving story effort assessment as a means for the movement assessment of preadolescent children, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 28 (2): 87-106.

Faculty Research Spotlight


  • Dr. Craig D. Marker (Psychology) published a book on Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The book is primarily for therapists in training, but it highlights the latest information on the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or Excessive Worry): Marker, C. D., & Aylward, A. (2012). Generalized Anxiety Disorder (1st ed.). Hogrefe & Huber Publishing.  ISBN-10: 0889373353
  • Drs. John Fitzgerald, Gerald Sullivan, and Boris Djokic (Business) published an article in the European Journal of Business Research: Fitzgerald, J., Sullivan, G. & Djokic, B. (2012). Customer Orientation and business performance in community banks: a five-year comparison. . European Journal of Business Research, 12(1), 148-152.
  • Drs. John Fitzgerald and Armando Salas-Amaro published an article in the European Journal of Business Research: Fitzgerald, J.. & Salas-Amaro, A. (2012). Graduate students percerption of online learning: a 10 year comparison . European Journal of Business Research, 12(1), 148-152.


  • Dr. Shoshana Dayanim (Psychology) was the winner of the Southeastern Psychological Association Outstanding Professional Paper Award: Dayanim, S., Levy, S. R. & Namy, L.L. (2011, March). Parents Report Infants Learn Best from Video With Parent Co-Viewing. Presented at the meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, Jacksonville, Florida. [] Dayanim, S. (2009). The acute effects of a specialized movement program on the verbal abilities of patients with late-stage Dementia. Alzheimer’s Care Today, 10(2): 93-98.
  • Dr. Craig Marker (Psychology) published an article comparing cognitive therapy with acceptance and commitment therapy: Marker, C. D., & Abramova, V. (2011). Cognitive therapy versus acceptance and commitment therapy: Conflict over maladaptive thoughts. PsycCRITIQUES, 56(42). doi:10.1037/a0024145.
  • Dr. Craig Marker (Psychology) presented at multiple conferences in 2011:Marker, C.D., Abramova, V., Comer, J.S., Kendall, P.K. (November, 2011). Dynamic interaction of alliance and symptoms in anxiety treatment for Youths. Paper presented at  the 45th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • Fieldstone, S., Marker, C. D. (November, 2011). Approach-Avoidance Tendencies and Gaze Direction in Angry, Disgusted, and Contemptuous Faces. Poster presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • Gallo, K., Cooper-Vince, C.E., Marker, C.D., Pincus, D.B., Comer, J.S. (November, 2011). Shape of Change in an Intensive Treatment for Adolescent Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Paper presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • Cek, D., Marker, C. D. (November, 2011). Fear of Positive Evaluation and Positivity Bias in Social Anxiety. Poster presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Toronto, ON, Canada.
  • Marker, C. D.  & Abramova, V. (2011, May). What do we notice first: an eyetracking study of faces? Poster presented at the 23nd Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, DC.
  • Cruz, I., Quittner, A.L., Snell, C., Barker, D.H., Marker, C.D., & Niparko, J. (2011, July). Symbolic play in hearing and deaf children with cochlear implants: relationship to language outcomes. Paper presented at the 13th Symposium on Cochlear Implants in Children, Chicago, IL.
  • Cruz, I., Quittner, A.L., Marker, C.D., & DesJardin, J. (2011, July). Promoting oral language in children with cochlear implants: identification of language techniques. Poster presented at the 13th Symposium on Cochlear Implants in Children, Chicago, IL.
  • Cruz, I., Quittner, A.L., Marker, C.D., & DesJardin, D. (2011, April). Identification of Effective Strategies to Promote Language Development in Young Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants. Poster presented at National Conference in Pediatric Psychology, San Antonio, TX.

Psychology, PhD (Psych, Psy) program links:

Mrs. Percy and Mr. Williams believed in me. They were more than instructors, they tried to get to know you as a person and tried to understand your goals so they could push you towards them. And Mrs. Crawford from student services helped me find a job before I even graduated. She was dedicated to my overall success.

Jessica Kircher

Going to Keiser University was one of the greatest experiences in my life. All of my deans, professors, and staff made me feel that I was a part of something very special, and I am. I would recommend for anyone to get their education at Keiser University.

Belinda Haney

The two instructors that have impacted my life are Mr. Williams and Mrs. Percy. Both of them believed in my ability to become a great graphic designer, regardless of how I felt about my skills. I appreciate their motivation to get me to where I am today.

Justin Pugh

Beyond the curriculum of the courses, the lessons the instructors have taught me have paid dividends in my real work experiences. How to respond to criticisms, project and time management, interview skills, the list goes on and on. At the end of the day, they not only showed me how to design, but they taught me how to be a professional.

Ryan Bushey

If not for my education at Keiser I probably would not be where I am today, in both life and career. It is because of going to Keiser and the instructors I had that I joined a club started by Mr. Williams, The Lakeland Shooters Photography Group, which allowed me to venture into an amazing and very creative field that I use to enhance all aspects of my life.

Anthony Sassano

The Design program at Keiser University was filled with real world learning and hands on instruction… Based on the portfolio I created while a student at Keiser University, I landed a job in Graphic Design for a major online retailer immediately after graduation.

Ty Fitzgerald

The year and a half I spent in the program better prepared me for attaining a job in the field…As a hands-on learner, the project-centered teaching was perfect for me.

Jackson Tejada

Keiser University has given me the opportunity to embrace a career change… It has opened the door for a timely graduation and quick return to the work force…

Dale Caverly

Without the education I received at Keiser University, I would not be where I am today!

Meisha Ebanks, R.N.

I not only received an excellent education but also encouragement and training that built my self-confidence every day.

Nidia Barrios

I realize the amount of knowledge I gained and feel that the educational experiences have developed me in to a person who can move higher up the career ladder.

Carlos Ramirez Flores

Keiser University’s MBA program has renewed my mind, changed the way I think, and given me a new sense of purpose.  The professors transformed my attitude and behavior, gave me the self-confidence I was lacking, and restored my energy.

Connie Sue Centrella

It has been great attending and graduating from Keiser University.  Because of the small class sizes, I was able to build good relationships with classmates and professors.  The PA professors care very much about the progress and success of the students and have been great advisors every step of the way through the program.

Annelise Merriner, PA-C

Attending Keiser University and getting my degree was the best decision I have ever made.  The small class sizes and personalized attention helped me get my degree quickly.  The hands-on experience and the education landed me a job at a neighboring law firm.

Dedrick Saxon

I chose Keiser because it had everything—small classes, caring professors, hands-on learning, and counselors that are really there for you.  I feel like I’m part of a family here, not just a number.

Natalie Dou

After being denied for several promotions at my current employer, I decided that I needed to further my education.  Since graduating from Keiser with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I have been promoted and I am able to obtain positions that weren’t available to me before.

Laurie Williams

Keiser helped change my life by getting my education at the right school! I had been going to another school before, I dropped out because I felt that I was not getting enough information. When I found out about Keiser, I was pleased because the instructors were great.

Nadege Dor

My decision to attend Keiser University has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I chose to enroll in the Information Technology program… The one-class-a-month pace helped incredibly with my self-discipline.

Marla Hadley

The BA for Business Administration at Keiser has to be one of the best in the nation. Keiser takes the basics that are taught at the Associates level and uses them to strengthen your skills and knowledge.

Vivian R. Howard, BA in Business Administration Graduate

I found that Keiser University’s Nuclear Medicine program of advanced studies and small class size was a perfect fit. I never came across a faculty member who wasn’t truly interested.

Gustavo Gonzalez, Nuclear Medicine Technology Graduate